On the Hill: Do’s and don’ts of the government shutdown

Just because Congress failed to pass a spending bill before midnight last night to keep the government open, it doesn’t mean we’re living in a Mad Max-style anarchic world now. Here’s a list of what you can and can’t do during the first shutdown since 1995.

DON’T

1. Bring a bomb on a plane (or a container bigger than 3.4 oz).

photo courtesy of US Navy

While many government agencies will remain closed until after the shutdown, essential positions such as law enforcement, TSA agents and border patrol are required to work for free. So don’t try any funny business, mister.

2. Plan a trip to the Grand Canyon.

 photo courtesy of US National Parks

All U.S. National Parks and National Forests are closed until Congress sorts this whole mess out, including Yosemite National Park, which celebrates its 123 birthday today by closing. All other federal-funded attractions such as the Statue of Liberty and Smithsonian Museums are closed as well.

3. Retire.

photo byLazlo Salazar

If you’re already receiving Social Security, you will continue to so you won’t have to pull a Brett Favre and come out of retirement, but if you plan on applying, you’ll have to wait as your application won’t get processed.

4. Try to get on any federal government website.

photo by Robert P Lemezski

God knows why you would try to do this normally, but all federal government websites are shut down until further notice. Just take a gander at the U.S. Department of Agriculture website…or the Department of Education…or the Department of Labor.

5. Watch the Navy vs.Air Force football game.

The US Naval Academy, West Point Army Academy and Air Force Academy, which are run by the US Department of Defense, have been forced to suspend all collegiate athletic competitions until the shutdown ends. But c’mon, who really wants to watch a 1-4 Mountain West team play a team that lost to WKU and is ranked 116th in the FBS in passing yards?

DO

1. Go to School.

To the disappointment of many eager students, there is no such thing as a “My-Senator-and/or-Representative-couldn’t-raise-the-debt-ceiling  Day” (trust me, we checked twitter). Because public schools are funded at the state level, classes will remain in session.

2.Write Letters.

photo courtesy of Web Gallery of Art

From my understanding, before the age of social media or e-mail, people wrote on pieces of paper in a now-extinct ancient language called cursive, then sent them to each other through a slow and painful process called the US Postal Service, or so the old legend goes. But if you are over the age of 65 or want to try and poison your local Senator for putting you through this fiasco, the Postal Service will remain open.

3. Write to your local Representative or Senator.

photo courtesy of U.S. Congress

Hey, why not. Maybe you will convince them to get some things done. But before you send that angry rant or suspicious package, check out this list of lawmakers that will be turning down their pay during the budget debacle.

4. Apply online for Obamacare.

photo byPete Souza

Whether you like it or not, a main portion of the president’s Affordable Care Act went into effect today, making all Americans eligible for health insurance.

 On the Hill, making sense out of political nonsense

Image by Ian Johnson

Photo courtesy of US Navy and James Alan